Sunday, December 21, 2014

The Longest Night

Today is the winter solstice, the darkest 24-hour period of the year, where night settles in, hunkers down, and exerts it's stubborn refusal to be shooed away. It is dark. And our immediate reaction is to turn on all of the lights and hide from all that scares us out there in the long and terrifying night.

This has been a year of extreme darkness in many respects for me personally. Great loss compounded upon great loss resulted in heart-heavy weeping in the middle of long and fearful nights. I have longed for the light of day this year, but the nights only became longer as the year stretched on. I ached for that sunny, solar religion where everything would be just fine if I only prayed enough, if I just said the right penance and attended enough feel-good, Sunday worship services. "There's always a silver lining," or "keep you chin up" were the cliched phrases of well-intentioned parishioners. But grief is not like that. Things aren't always just fine in the end. It was only dark, and the grotesquely bright sunshine of the Sunday, solar experience made my grief feel like a circus and sucked the legitimacy out of my pain.